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The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food, there's a "slow professor" movement.

Two university professors say they feel time-crunched, exhausted and demoralised. They say they are being asked to be more efficient at the expense of more thoughtful teaching.
"Really, we're being encouraged to stay away from the really big questions because they're going to take too long to think through. You want to pump out as much stuff as quickly as you can. That's going to have a consequence for how thoughtful things are." — Barbara K. Seeber

Maggie Berg, a professor of English at Queen's University, and Barbara K. Seeber, a professor of English at Brock University, are co-authors of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy.

Berg and Seeger argue universities squeeze as much intellectual capital out of professors as possible, and closely monitor the output of their mental exertions.

They spoke to Michael about their book and their mission to "reclaim the intellectual life of the university.""

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education" ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The Miseducation of America - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"While I was watching Ivory Tower, a documentary about the state of college in America that appears in select theaters this month (the movie also airs on CNN this fall), it occurred to me that of the many problems with higher education these days, not the least concerns the way we talk about it. "Efficiency," "art-history majors," "kids who graduate with $100,000 in debt," "the college bubble," the whole rhetoric of crisis and collapse: The public discourse is dominated by sound bites, one-liners, hearsay, horror stories, and a very great deal of misinformation.

Higher ed is not unique in this respect, of course, but it is particularly bad. College, as the movie points out, was always treated as a black box: 18-year-olds were inserted at one end, 22-year-olds came out the other, and as long as the system appeared to be working, no one bothered to inquire what happened in between. Americans, as a result, have very little understanding of what college is about—how it works, what it’s for, what larger social benefits it offers—and those employed in higher education have had very little practice in explaining it to them. The debate has been left to the politicians, the pundits, and increasingly, the hustlers and ideologues. Few who talk about college in public understand it, and few who understand it talk about it.

Ivory Tower, for the most part, is an honorable exception."

"Ivory Tower shows us why it’s so important that we get this right: that we think with facts, with respect to college costs and what they get you, not emotions. When we cherry pick the scariest stories and numbers, we do two things: We open the door to hucksters selling easy answers, and we forget what college is really for. Apocalypticism leads to messianism. Close behind the anxious parents whom we see on college tours at Wesleyan and NYU—variously blithe or glum adolescents in tow—come, like vultures to a kill, a pair of now-familiar figures: Peter Thiel and Sebastian Thrun."

"The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.

The film recounts the history and recent fate of that idea: its origin among the philanthropists of the industrial age, figures like Peter Cooper, founder of his eponymous Union; its progressive unfolding through the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the GI Bill of 1944, the postwar expansion of the University of California, and the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created the federal student-loan and grant programs; and its deliberate destruction under Ronald Reagan and his ideological heirs.

Free, high-quality higher education (just like free, high-quality school, which we continue to at least pretend to endorse): that is what we used to believe in; that’s what many other countries still believe in; that is what we must believe in once again. The filmmakers undoubtedly knew what they were doing when they chose to show us the moment, during that seminar at Deep Springs, when the students are debating Hegel’s proposition that, as their professor puts it, "you need to have a common identity as citizens, because it creates the bonds of affection." Or in Delbanco’s words, "What kind of society do we want to be?" Cooper Union’s commencement speaker, that tumultuous spring of 2013, turns out to have been none other than Michael Bloomberg. "The debate you’re having really isn’t about whether education is free," we see him tell the students. "It’s really about who can and who is willing to pay for it."

On this the billionaire and I agree. In terms of the "can" (and it’s hard to believe the word could even pass his lips), the answer is clear. Not just the plutocrats, not just the upper class, but the upper middle class, as well. Everybody knows by now that the share of national income that accrues to the famous one percent has risen to about 23 percent, higher than at almost any time since 1928. But the share that accrues to the top 10 percent as a whole, which stayed around 33 percent from the 1950s through the 1970s, has risen to its highest level ever (or at least, since record-keeping started), more than 50 percent. In a $17-trillion economy, the difference represents a premium of nearly $3-trillion a year, about five times the federal deficit and more than enough for this and many other public purposes.

The problem of costs, to be sure, is not a one-way street. Higher education must indeed increase efficiency, but how? Institutions have been willing to spend on everything in recent years except the thing that matters most: instruction. Dorms, deans, sports, but not professors. Piglike presidential salaries, paid for by hiring adjuncts. Now, with MOOCs and other forms of online instruction, the talk is more of the same. My friends, they are coming for you. The professoriate no longer has the luxury of thinking that all this is someone else’s problem. If you want to save your skins, let alone ensure the future of the enterprise, you need to wake up and organize against the people who are organizing against you. The fact is that by focusing exclusively on monetary issues, the current conversation prevents us not only from remembering the higher objectives of an undergraduate education, but also from recognizing just how bad a job our institutions have been doing at fulfilling them. Colleges and universities have a lot to answer for; if they want to regain the support of the larger society, they need to prove that they are worthy of it.

Ivory Tower ends, in the manner of such films today, by referring us to a website. Under the rubric "Take Action," the site encourages us to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass legislation, of the kind proposed by Elizabeth Warren (and just blocked by Senate Republicans), allowing individuals to refinance their student loans. That would certainly be a good thing, but we need to set our sights a great deal higher. If service workers can demand a $15 minimum wage, more than double the federal level, then those who care about higher education can insist on the elimination of tuition and fees at state institutions and their replacement by public funding furnished by taxes on the upper 10 percent. As with the minimum wage, the campaign can be conducted state by state, and it can and should involve a large coalition of interested groups: students, parents, and instructors, to start with. Total enrollment at American colleges and universities now stands at 20 million, on top of another million-plus on the faculty. That’s a formidable voting bloc, should it learn to exercise its power. Since the Occupy movement in 2011, it’s clear that the fight to reverse the tide of growing inequality has been joined. It’s time we joined it."
2014  williamderesiewicz  highered  highereducation  education  policy  politics  finance  money  studentloands  ivorytower  reform  faculty  solidarity  ows  occupywallstreet  inequality  purpose  canon  funding  publicfunding  mooc  moocs  unions  labor  deepspringscollege  colleges  universities  liberalarts  society  learning  criticalthinking  uncollege  dalestephens  peterthiel  sebastianthrun  peterschiff  efficiency  cooperunion  communitycolleges  debt  studentdebt  employment 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Death of American Universities | Jacobin
"The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were advising their investors on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.

This idea is sometimes made quite overt. So when Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health.

At the time, everyone regarded Greenspan’s comment as very reasonable, judging by the lack of reaction and the great acclaim he enjoyed. Well, transfer that to the universities: how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more.

That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations. And as universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is exactly what is being imposed. And we’ll see more and more of it.

That’s one aspect, but there are other aspects which are also quite familiar from private industry, namely a large increase in layers of administration and bureaucracy. If you have to control people, you have to have an administrative force that does it. So in US industry even more than elsewhere, there’s layer after layer of management — a kind of economic waste, but useful for control and domination."

So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.

In fact, if you look back farther, it goes even deeper than that. If you go back to the early 1970s when a lot of this began, there was a lot of concern pretty much across the political spectrum over the activism of the 1960s; it’s commonly called “the time of troubles.” It was a “time of troubles” because the country was getting civilized, and that’s dangerous. People were becoming politically engaged and were trying to gain rights for groups that are called “special interests,” like women, working people, farmers, the young, the old, and so on. That led to a serious backlash, which was pretty overt.

And another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security, you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control.

"Even young children are creative, inquisitive, they want to know things, they want to understand things, and unless that’s beaten out of your head it stays with you the rest of your life. If you have opportunities to pursue those commitments and concerns, it’s one of the most satisfying things in life.

That’s true if you’re a research physicist, it’s true if you’re a carpenter; you’re trying to create something of value and deal with a difficult problem and solve it. I think that’s what makes work the kind of thing you want to do; you do it even if you don’t have to do it. In a reasonably functioning university, you find people working all the time because they love it; that’s what they want to do; they’re given the opportunity, they have the resources, they’re encouraged to be free and independent and creative-what’s better? That’s what they love to do. And that, again, can be done at any level.

It’s worth thinking about some of the imaginative and creative educational programs that are being developed at different levels. So, for example, somebody just described to me the other day a program they’re using in high schools, a science program where the students are asked an interesting question: “How can a mosquito fly in the rain?”

That’s a hard question when you think about it. If something hit a human being with the force of a raindrop hitting a mosquito it would absolutely flatten them immediately. So how come the mosquito isn’t crushed instantly? And how can the mosquito keep flying? If you pursue that question — and it’s a pretty hard question — you get into questions of mathematics, physics, and biology, questions that are challenging enough that you want to find an answer to them.

That’s what education should be like at every level, all the way down to kindergarten, literally. There are kindergarten programs in which, say, each child is given a collection of little items: pebbles, shells, seeds, and things like that. Then the class is given the task of finding out which ones are the seeds. It begins with what they call a “scientific conference”: the kids talk to each other and they try to figure out which ones are seeds. And of course, there’s some teacher guidance, but the idea is to have the children think it through.

After a while, they try various experiments and they figure out which ones are the seeds. At that point, each child is given a magnifying glass and, with the teacher’s help, cracks a seed and looks inside and finds the embryo that makes the seed grow. These children learn something-really, not only something about seeds and what makes things grow; but also about how to discover. They’re learning the joy of discovery and creation, and that’s what carries you on independently, outside the classroom, outside the course.

The same goes for all education up through graduate school. In a reasonable graduate seminar, you don’t expect students to copy it down and repeat whatever you say; you expect them to tell you when you’re wrong or to come up with new ideas, to challenge, to pursue some direction that hadn’t been thought of before. That’s what real education is at every level, and that’s what ought to be encouraged. That ought to be the purpose of education. It’s not to pour information into somebody’s head which will then leak out but to enable them to become creative, independent people who can find excitement in discovery and creation and creativity at whatever level or in whatever domain their interests carry them."
2014  1960s  1970s  highered  highereducation  economics  policy  studentdebt  tenure  precarity  pracariat  plutonomy  administrativebloat  control  neoliberalism  indoctrination  power  adjuncts  learing  howwelearn  tcsnmy  lcproject  democracy  openstudioproject  curiosity  inquiry  enlightenment  history  education  howweteach  pedagogy  teaching  learning  flexibility  faculty 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Teachers Without Students | First Things
"Here’s an arresting statistic that economist Richard Vedder thinks goes a long way to explaining the rapid rise in college tuitions: 80% of faculty at the University of Texas, Austin teach fewer than half the students. In view of the fact that faculty salaries make up the largest expense at the university, one simple change would reduce tuition. Get the 80% back into the classrooms.<br />
<br />
Vedder anticipates the objection that forcing the bulk of professors into the classroom will harm the research mission of the university. His most devastating response is again a simple statistic—20% of faculty account for 99.8% of external research grants and funding. That leaves 60% of faculty who have very low teaching loads whose research—or in many cases lack of research—is financed by the general operating budget of UT. His proposal: have them teach two classes each semester, adds up to 200 hours per year in the classroom. As they say in Texas, that ain’t too bad for a payin’ job."
education  teaching  politics  economics  universities  highereducation  highered  academia  higheredbubble  faculty  via:lukeneff  2011  utaustin  tuition  rankings  usnewsandworldreport  reputation  quality  teachingfaculty  yaledisease 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Introverted Teacher? - ProTeacher Community [Thread follows the post quoted below]
"I am an introvert, meaning I am at my best when I have solitary time to reflect, appreciate, plan. I usually prefer being alone, or with my immediate family. When at school, I am very outgoing and friendly, yet, sometimes the nonstop contact (with students, parents, colleagues, administration…) seems to just wear me out. I was aware of this possibility going into teaching, but still felt it was my calling, and was inspired by the fact that Ghandi, MLK, Jr. and Oprah have the same personality type I have--and they obviously contributed great things in callings with extensive human contact.

…wondering if it's possible to be truly happy & effective as a teacher & be an introvert at the same time…thought of attending a faculty meeting is also often a downer…

What are your thoughts on this? Better yet, any happy teacher introverts out there? Any unhappy ones feeling out of place? Any insight/honesty would be greatly appreciated."
via:lukeneff  introverts  introversion  teaching  education  work  meetings  facultymeetings  faculty  cv  intorverts 
may 2011 by robertogreco
John Maeda at odds with RISD Faculty - natalia ilyin
"Maeda's made so many enemies and done so many wrong-headed things in such a short amount of time that I am reminded once again that IQ and intelligence are not the same thing. He's made many sweeping administrative errors, but it is this that bothers me: he thinks himself more intelligent than those who surround him and those who have gone before him. And since he believes himself more intelligent and advanced than the people that went before him, he assumes that what they believed is not true anymore, is outdated. This is a false syllogism.

John Maeda may think that because he has a smartphone and can process the video he is taking of you (while you are trying to converse with him) through html 5 and make it interact with objects in a cornfield in real time or some such thing, that somehow his vision of what art education is and should be is "more advanced" than that of the rest of the faculty at RISD, but in this thinking he is also mistaken. This logic is roughly equivalent to your saying that you can bake a better cupcake than I can because you use a silicone pan. The recipe and quality of ingredients, the baking time or general talent of the baker seem to have nothing to do with it.

We believed that Maeda could do for us that which we were too lazy to do for ourselves. We wanted him to somehow make what we teach seem new and shiny in the current era, without our really having to do anything about it. But we expected way too much from one man, and we did not understand that his great talent seems to be that of the person who first sees a shiny object in the marketplace and runs to get it. He is the earliest of adopters, the bell-weather of early adopters."
risd  designeducation  design  education  leadership  management  hierarchy  intelligence  interpersonal  johnmaeda  2011  noconfidence  faculty  administration  human  technology  change  highereducation  highered  arts  art 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Why Do They Hate Us? - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education
“There are, of course, many other, less prominent reasons for the current anti-faculty climate. But perhaps it is enough to say that the reason we feel more ‘hated’ than ever is that we deserve it. Instead of collaborating, we competed with each other. We focused on our research instead of on the needs of undergraduates. We even exploited our graduate students, using their labor to underwrite our privileges, and then we relegated most of them to marginal positions as adjuncts. We waited too long to institute reforms to our profession, and now—after 40 years of inaction—the reforms are going to be forced upon us.” [via:]
education  highereducation  highered  academia  tenure  opinion  economics  colleges  universities  faculty  teaching  research 
october 2010 by robertogreco
"A dean has the power to lead a school in a particular direction, and not in others. Together with this power comes the responsibility to have, and communicate, a clear idea of what that direction is, so that faculty and students know where they stand. If they agree, they freely stay and work together; if they disagree, they can leave, or not join the school at all. A dean, acting also through department chairs, sets the tone of a school—whether it is to be experimental or rooted in traditional values—and also its character—egalitarian or autocratic. A great school cannot be all things to all people. Intelligent choices can be made only when the available choices are clear. A dean who lets a school be pushed this way and that by its own internal struggles within the faculty and the students is a failed leader, and the school suffers. A great dean is not afraid to lead in the direction he or she thinks best. The courage to do that is the essence of the job description"

[list of posts in this series here: ]
lebbeuswoods  education  architecture  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  mission  management  focus  teaching  learning  faculty  socraticmethod 
march 2009 by robertogreco

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